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Artists with expensive custom basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Cygnus0820, May 19, 2019.

  1. Cygnus0820


    Apr 3, 2019
    i gotta know how les claypool was able to afford a $5000 Carl Thompson Bass before Primus was popular and he was making any money. Also.. that guy from aliens ant farm had his own master workshop custom bass from fender that costs like $30k... how in the world could he have afforded that thing and already had it in their first video before they were really famous!? He was a nobody and asked fender to make him something completely unlike anything Fender ever made before... how’d he pull that off???
    Amano, BOOG, trailer and 2 others like this.
  2. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2006
    Jealousy is strong with you, Grasshopper. ;)
  3. Cygnus0820


    Apr 3, 2019
    Jealousy? Hahaha no!
    I’ve had plenty of expensive basses.
    However if I call fender right now and tell them I want them to make me a bass that sorta looks like a Carl Thompson but with 7 strings and active Bartolini pick ups, I’m sure they’d laugh me off the phone. I’m a nobody. And so was the guy from alien ant farm... so how’d he do it?
    GregC, murphy, Amano and 6 others like this.
  4. Mustang Surly

    Mustang Surly

    Jul 10, 2013
    I'm neither an artist nor the owner of an expensive custom bass.

    Look at all the grief I've saved myself!
  5. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    As far as Les Claypool, he found his first Carl Thompson at a local music store. It was used and he got the money from his parents. I don't know what he paid but I'm sure a used 1976 CT didn't cost anywhere near five grand at that time. If anything I'd say the prices for Carl Thompson basses skyrocketed AFTER Claypool got known for playing them and especially once there was a long waitlist and Carl Thompson slowed down in terms of the number of builds per year.

    I don't know for sure with Tye Zamora but my understanding is that he built his own bass with the help of a luthier and was playing that in the beginning. It was supposedly modelled after a Jerzy Drozd. He later approached Fender about making a Custom Shop version of it.
    Last edited: May 19, 2019
  6. consectaneus


    Sep 23, 2016
    I always Ass sumed that these guys got their bases through some sort of endorsement deal, or just good business sense on the part of the manufacturer to get their basses into the hands of well known and/or respected players. John Patitucci 6 string Ken Smith, Stanley Clark short scale Alembic, Anthony Jackson Fodera contrabass, Victor Wooten.

    If it's not the case, no harm intended.

    I think Fender has a long history of giving gear to artists.
    Waltsdog likes this.
  7. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    Fender custom shop will do anything you want, if you can give the money for it.

    A lot of everyday people buy beautiful cars and houses that cost a lot more than these basses. There is nothing special to it.
    Bob_Ross, thabassmon, QRanc and 25 others like this.
  8. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Also keep in mind that even the most expensive custom basses are usually less expensive than cheap used cars. Focusing where you spend your money can make it go a long way, even if you don’t make much.
  9. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Priorities. Ask any professional violinist what their instrument cost (and likely they have only one).
  10. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    Many of those don't own their instruments.(if it is the really expensive ones, we are talking about here)
    5k would not be a lot at all though when looking into the world of classical players and many will own instruments in that prioce range or higher.
    Last edited: May 19, 2019
  11. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2006
    At least, their main gigging instruments.
  12. Maybe he has a connection...
  13. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Yes they do. The soloists may borrow a vintage instrument for a particular concert, but they own one (since they will play for hours almost every day). Their personal instruments likely cost more than five grand.
  14. mmbongo

    mmbongo Five Time World Champion Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    Wanna hear something even worse than that?

    I have two USA Spectors, very similar to this one selling for $5500.
    Spector NS4-H2, Bahama Blue! *NOT Pre-Owned | BASS CENTRAL
    Yes. Two of them. But I didn't pay anywhere near that for either one.

    My band plays local bars in front of less than 100 people :)

    Point being...don't always assume that folks are shelling out the prices you see on the internet.
  15. LowFactor


    Jul 6, 2018
    Their bows alone cost 20+ grand....
    SnappyFerret, chadds, Sixgunn and 6 others like this.
  16. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    The interesting thing here is that the first Alembic that was”given” to any artist was the short scale with dragon inlay that Alembic gave to Stanley Clarke commemorating the 30 years association he had playing their instruments. All of which he purchased up until that one.

    Alembic - Featured Custom

    First paragraph of the linked article reads....(emphasis mine)

    It's been just over thirty years that Stanley Clarke and Alembic have been working together. Thirty years is a long time. It's almost as long as we've been crafting instruments. He's never had a huge collection of Alembics: maybe four or five at a time, a seemingly small collection for such a reknowned artist. We've never done endorsements like other companies, and Stanley has been a very good customer for all these years.
  17. Turbo Sparky

    Turbo Sparky Supporting Member

    May 14, 2018
    South Eastern U.S.
    1. Work pinch save, repeat for the most part.
    2. Label front money helps.
    3. No front money? Refer to #1.
  18. On Les’s first CT bass...

    “When Les was a teenager, he saw the bass in a music shop in his home town. His first thought was that it was the ugliest bass he had ever seen – then he tested it out with playing “Roundabout”, and as it turns out, it was the most comfortable bass he had ever played. He begged his parents for some money and he bought it the next day.”

    Les Claypool | Carl Thompson | Fine Handmade Instruments

    Les has a more detailed accounting on the Pachederm basses site.

    Pachyderm Basses
    Last edited: May 19, 2019
  19. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    orchestral musicians are expected to have high grade instruments (more often than not $20,000+, sometimes more than double that) before they are employed - go look at ads for $40,000 prescott double basses - they will often state "ready for your next audition.."

    so, it's not unusual to invest in a high quality instrument.

    as far as affording it, it's kinda like asking how did les claypool afford his first car. or how did some of these folks buy an expensive engagement ring, or whatever else. money is money. just because they weren't famous yet doesn't mean they don't know how to budget it.
    SnappyFerret, djaxup, Saorex and 7 others like this.
  20. kinopah


    Oct 19, 2014
    I also love that VW's iconic #1 Fodera Monarch was literally his 3rd bass, following a Univox Beatle Bass & a super-heavy Alembic Series I. He said it cost $900 back then, but he was recording and Fodera had just started up and Joey literally just left it with him (as a totally unknown teenager) saying "pay me when you can". And that them taking a chance on him like that was a big part of why he stuck with them for 35+ years.

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